From right, Friendship Center board president Dana VanderMey, executive director Heidi Holly and board vice president Kathy Marden MFT at Saturday’s Festival of Hearts benefit. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

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iSociety: Rochelle Rose

“Mardi Gras Magic” was the theme of Saturday’s festive luncheon at The Fess Parker to benefit Friendship Center’s H.E.A.R.T. (Help Elders At Risk Today) program, which subsidizes the cost of adult day services for low-income aging and dependent adults and their families.

The Friendship Center is located at 89 Eucalyptus Lane in Montecito, on the campus of All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, and there is a sister facility at Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 820 N. Fairview Ave. in Goleta.

Despite a steady downpour of rain outside, more than 150 guests at the 16th Annual Festival of Hearts enjoyed local Fess Parker wines, Heart Art and a live auction, all to benefit Friendship Center. Attendees were tapping their toes to Dixieland and New Orleans-style music by the Montecito Jazz Project.

The mood was definitely laissez les bon temps rouler, with many guests dressed in Mardi Gras attire, and everyone donned the handful of purple, green and gold beads that were presented to them upon arrival.

“This is truly a team effort with staff, volunteers, and many heart artists and auction donors contributing to the event’s success,” Friendship Center executive director Heidi Holly told Noozhawk.

Sharon Morrow, aka the “Heart Wrangler,” and her Heart Posse were credited with garnering the creative hearts donated to the silent auction. Gail Rappaport skillfully served as live auctioneer extraordinaire, and Kathy Marden headed up the event committee. Credited for the colorful, themed decorations was Arlene Larsen, who also donated the Magic Castle package that opened the live auction.

Magical Heart Art was donated and created by Jeff Bridges, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Rod Lathim, and other local artists and celebrities.

Major sponsors included Casa Dorinda, HUB International Insurance Services, MarBorg Industries, Union Bank, Louise and David Borgatello, Cal Western & Pacific Tree, Nancy and Thomas Crawford Jr., Inge Gatz and Steven Gilbar, Susan and John Hanna, Penny Mathison and Don Nulty, Dana and Randall VanderMey, and many others. 

Board president Dana VanderMey confessed to the crowd that she was first introduced to the Friendship Center by her now 34-year-old son.

“He was enrolled in All Saints’ pre-school and came home one day and said that they had gone to visit the grandmas and grandpas,” she recalled. “I went down to see for myself and found out it was the Friendship Center across the street!

“I have been a fan ever since, and thank all of you for allowing us to help elders at risk in the community with adult day-care services.”

Click here for more information about the Friendship Center, or call 805.969.0859.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.